Posts Tagged ‘flash fiction’

Flash Fiction Prep Course

The history of flash fiction stretches back to Aesop’s fables, continues through The New Yorker’s contest held this previous summer, and does not cease to change in new and exciting ways today. We’re stoked to be hosting a Flash Fiction Contest of our own, open now, with a prize of $3K for the snappiest little story under 1000 words. If you’re nervous about jumping into this long standing institution, here are six different resources to help you prepare for success. We believe in you!

Brave on the Page: Oregon Writers on Craft and the Creative Life – Edited by Laura Stanfill

This book tackles a lot more than just flash fiction, but it is incredibly useful as a collection of wisdom from 42 amazing Oregon writers. There are flash essays, interviews, and advice of all kinds for the aspiring author!

FLASH: Writing the Very Short Story – John Dufresne

John Dufresne is an accomplished American author (he won a Guggenheim Fellowship!) who demystifies the process of writing flash fiction in this brand new book. He also has a TED talk on how to write a story that is interesting, engaging, and definitely worth watching!

Stories in Your Pocket: How to Write Flash Fiction – David Gaffney

Flash fiction is becoming more and more popular, and steadily moving into the public consciousness. Here’s an article in a major newspaper on the subject!

Adventures in Twitter fiction – Andrew Fitzgerald

Andrew Fitzgerald covers this more specific subset of flash fiction in his TED talk, and he gives great advice. If you have twelve minutes to spare (and we know you do!), you should check it out!

The Rose Metal Press Guide to Writing Flash Fiction – Edited by Tara L. Masih

Highly recommended by many successful authors, such as Len Kuntz and David Galef, this book uses essays and writing prompts to help enterprising writers improve. Rose Metal Press also published books covering other genres, and they are all first-rate!

The Masters Review Blog

It’s tricky to pin down the exact nature of flash fiction, but we’ve certainly given it the old college try. We’ve tackled the subject numerous times on our blog, and we’ve helpfully consolidated them here for you! Check out the following:

Flash Fiction Techniques Part 1

Flash Fiction Techniques Part 2

Literary Terms: Flash Fiction

Notes From the Slush – Flash Fiction

by Kimberly Guerin

New Voices: “Road Trip” by Rachel Attias

Rachel Attias’s powerful piece, “Road Trip,” received an honorable mention in our recent Flash Fiction Contest. This pithy little story goes deep. It chronicles the experience of a group of girls who set off on a cross-country road trip after college. Attias perfectly conveys both the freedom of youth and the ways in which young women can feel trapped by the gaze of others.

“We had stretched the length of the country; we had become humongous. We had forgotten that we are just girls.”

We drive across the country when college ends, just us girls. We keep the windows open and the music loud; our hair whips around our heads and our blood pumps to the bass beat. We are so young; this is our first real adventure, for some it’s our first time West of the Mississippi. We are so young. Just five short years from now we will be locked into jobs, relationships, homes. We will think we’re making mistakes all along the way, but we will mistake ourselves into careers, partners, very nice apartments or even houses. But now we live in a car.

We leave the industry of the East behind, and suddenly we see what everyone else has been doing all this time. We drive through the rainforest of West Virginia, the St. Louis Arch. We slide through the corn and soybean fields that make up the heart, the backbone, the vital anatomical metaphor of this country. Flat green falls away and rises into rich hills, crosshatched with the black lines of charred trees, and then flattens out again.

The old measurements lose their relevance. The meaning of a mile is nothing to us. There are no more hours, only time when it is light enough to see and time when it isn’t. We are constantly moving, so that it begins to feel like we’re on a treadmill. We aren’t going anywhere, really. We’re not moving away from anything, either, and we don’t know yet that we want to be. Our phones buzz and beep; families, friends, lovers want to know where we are, what we see now. We don’t know how to say it. If we hold our breath we might be suspended in time and space, hurtling at eighty miles an hour in a large metal box.

Sometimes we want to yank each other’s hair. We want to fight. We see each other so closely that we miss things. When this is done we will love one another in the fashion that only young women can, a thing made infinite, as two mirrors facing each other. We will stare and stare, and love will give way to hate, will give way to self-loathing, and back to love again. Some of us will drift apart after this is done.

To read the rest of “Road Trip,” click here.

Literary Terms: Flash Fiction

These days, it seems like flash fiction has never been more popular. With many journals including separate submission categories for flash and still others, such as wigleaf and SmokeLong Quarterly, devoted entirely to the publication of small fictions—the short short story is (finally) getting its due. Many authors, such as Lydia Davis, Amelia Gray, Ben Loory, and Amber Sparks, have put out collections of flash fiction without explicitly labeling it as such. Flash fiction is generally considered to be a story of 1000 words or less (though there is even some debate about this), but within this category alone there are several subsets. The wonderful thing about flash fiction is that, aside from its length, it resists easy definition. There are limitless techniques that can be used in flash. So why label it at all? Well, you certainly don’t have to. But it can be fun. For example: did you know that there is something called a drabble? Sometimes putting a constraint of 1000 or 300 or even 25 words on a story is all you need to get the creative juices flowing.

flash fiction

Hint Fiction – Credit goes to Robert Swartwood for coining the term hint fiction as: “A story of 25 words or fewer that suggests a larger, more complex, story.” We were thrilled to get a chance to talk with Swartwood himself in this interview. Swartwood also edited the first-ever hint fiction anthology, and he explained to us what he believes makes a great piece of hint: “For me, a successful hint fiction story stands by itself. It’s not a first sentence or random sentence plucked out of a much larger work. In many ways, it has a beginning, middle, and end.” Here is a roundup of a few of our favorite hint fiction stories to read online.

Twitter Fiction – As the name suggests, twitter fiction refers to stories made up of 140 characters max that appear on the social media site, though it should be noted that these stories can often take the form of several tweets strung together. Swartwood rightly pointed out to us that the main difference between hint fiction and twitter fiction (besides the slight variance in length requirements) is that hint fiction has a title and twitter fiction doesn’t. In stories of this length, a title can make a big difference. You know that it is coming into the mainstream when Jennifer Egan publishes an entire story in The New Yorker composed, originally, as a series of tweets. You can read great articles on twitter fiction in The Atlantic and The Huffington Post.

Dribble and drabble – While these terms are not widely used, a drabble is generally acknowledged to be a story of precisely 100 words, a dribble a story of precisely 50. You will not find these definitions listed in Merriam-Webster, but still: they are pretty great.